STAFF at Glasgow universities will go on strike today in the first day of an “unprecedented” level of industrial action which will see classes cancelled until March.

Lecturers, teaching staff and other workers at Glasgow’s four universities will walk out in disputes over pay, conditions and pensions.

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Staff at the University of Glasgow will form a picket line outside the main entrance of the institution at 8am today and Friday.

Action will be staggered over four weeks and scaled up over the month, culminating in a full week of walk-outs in the week beginning Monday, March 9.

The University and Colleges Union (UCU) is involved in two disputes with universities throughout the UK – on pensions and on the pay and conditions for staff.

The University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow are involved in disputes around changes to the university superannuation scheme and the pay and conditions of staff.

Glasgow Caledonian and the Glasgow School of Art are only involved in the dispute around pay and conditions.

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Students affected by strikes at the Glasgow School of Art have started a petition with 295 signatures at time of writing, expressing support for staff and calling for a reimbursement of tuition fees for the days lost to industrial action.

In a joint statement, the UCU at Glasgow University said it would not discourage students crossing the picket line and have committed to making students aware of potential disruption, while the university has pledged to spread pay deductions for striking staff over three months.

The university and the UCU jointly recognised “real progress” on reducing zero-hours contracts, narrowing the university’s gender pay gap and the introduction of flexible working arrangements for staff with caring responsibilities.

Mary Senior of UCU Scotland, expressing her frustration with the breakdown of negotiations with universities across the UK, said: “This unprecedented level of action shows just how angry staff are at their universities’ refusal to negotiate properly with us.”